Unpaid fuel bill leads to coal ship arrest

A coal ship has been arrested near Newcastle in relation to allegations of non-payment of a fuel bill in China.

The Panama ship Jo Jin Maru was awaiting a new load of coal from Waratah Coal Services on Tuesday morning when the crew was served with a Federal Court of Australia writ for US$258,338.66, and the ship placed under arrest.

It is alleged a bill for 408 tonnes of fuel taken from the Chinese port of Jiang Jin in March was unpaid.

The Newcastle Herald reported that the fuel supplier sought payment under a contract subject to US law, and would charge 10 per cent interest per annum, which if left unpaid could lead to sale of the ship.

The writ was delivered by a customs officer appointed by the Federal Court as an Admiralty Marshall, who travelled to the ship in a helicopter which would usually transport the harbour pilot.

Due to the inconvenience of loading schedule disruption, ships are no longer arrested while moored at the wharf, with writs now served on ships before they enter the Port of Newcastle.

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